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  • chris

Proprietary DUMB Thermostats vs SMART

We all have, or have had, a proprietary (OEM) thermostat connected to our ducted A/C units. Without them, our A/C units wouldn't work.

Ever since the introduction of the smart thermostat there has been an argument from the "haters" (for lack of a better word). These haters state that smart thermostats are dumb and proprietary T'Stats are smart. I feel this is mainly to do with the fact that these high tech T'Stats connect to your A/C units through a high level interface.

What this means in laymens terms, is that these particular controllers communicate to the A/C unit by sending packets of information on a 2 wire bus back and forward. These packets can include any information the unit required to run, eg temperature, set point, mode, status etc.

They also house a bunch of other user accessible functions that help in diagnostics and commissioning of your system.

On the other side we have "smart thermostats" that communicate on a "low level". this means that each wire has one job and one job only. for example, the "g" wire has power on it when the fan needs to start and has no power every other time.

They don't have diagnostics and can't receive any information "back" from the A/C.

So when you stack them up against each other this way, it's easy to see how someone can think the smart thermostat is the dumb one, but dresses up to look smart.

This is where things get interesting.

A proper understanding of the way these systems actually work (information sought from hundreds of technical manuals and years of industry study - not through a whirlpool forum post) reveals a much different picture.

Yes, they send a dumb signal, but that's all they need to do. All the smarts are handled between the indoor unit and the outdoor unit, these units have hundreds of sensors that when bought together, allow the A/C to see the big picture. When to start, when to speed up, when to slow down, how hard it needs to run to produce the optimum supply air temperatures etc.

So what makes a smart thermostat so smart and an OEM one so dumb, you ask?

I've compiled a list of pros and cons of both, because that seams to be the simplest way to stack them up against each other.

First up, the smart one (the real smart one, such as Nest, Ecobee etc)

Smart Thermostat Pro's

- wi-fi built in

- cool geo-fencing options

- occupancy sensing as standard

- remote thermostat compatible (mostly)

- well built, user friendly apps

- easy GUI, intuitive controls and adaptable scheduling

- adaptability with a multitude of control system and smart home interfaces (IFTTT, Alexa, apple home kit, etc)

- learning algorithms that help set the controller up the way in needs to be, rather then the way you think it needs to be

Smart Thermostat Con's

- expensive (not that an OEM thermostat is cheap either)

- compatibility issues (that's why we are here, so it's only a con for now)

- harder to implement zoning

- you may loose some functions depending on the system that you choose

Now for the OEM:

OEM Pro's

- generally included with the purchase price of your AC (essentially 'free')

- they work seamlessly with your AC (that's all they were designed to do)

- generally simple on/off, up/down etc

- diagnostics on board

- special field settings on board

- easy to connect to your AC

OEM Con's

- they are clunky and old looking (fresh but old)

- scheduling is painful (even for the pros)

- no wi-fi out of the box

- zero smart home integration ability

What does EZLink do to help?

Here at EZLink, we bring the smart thermostat experience to you. We make it easy to integrate, thus connecting your A/C to the rest of your smart house. We give you the tools to benefit from the pro's of smart thermostat without loosing the essential functions built into your OEM controller.

During the installation, we ask you to place your OEM controller in the roof space, somewhere accessible. This ensures your service technicians have access to all the functions they could possibly need, whilst you enjoy the sleek look of your smart thermostat and control the temperature of your house from anywhere in the world.

In conclusion, is it really all worth it? Well that's up to you to decide, but I've been told all the cool kids are doing it. Do you really want to miss out?

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